First of all, Gbure is the Yoruba term for Water Leaf, so this can also be called Water leaf Egusi, but I like to stick to the full Yoruba name. It sounds sexy. This soup is a delicacy local to the people of Abeokuta in Ogun State, Nigeria. I picked up this recipe from Oyinlola Olamoyegun, a member of SYTYCC on Facebook. Someone mentioned cooking egusi with water leaf, and asked for a recipe. It was a little strange to me to hear this combination, considering Egusi is probably my most favourite thing to cook and eat, and I have tried it very many types of vegetables. My grandmother made her special Gbure soup, something like Efo riro when we were ill and had lost our appetite. We never appreciated peppersoup as children, so her soup came in handy because it was really watery, the water leaf was quite soft, so no chewing necessary and it was quite spicy. It helped to get some food and necessary fluids into your stomach.
I was really intrigued to make Egusi soup with water leaves. In fact, Oyinlola called it ‘pade mi ni gunpa’. For non Yoruba speaking folks, this means meet me at the elbow. This is because this soup is very watery, courtesy of it being cooked with lots of water leaves, so as you chow down with your starchy solid, it is inevitable that some will drip from your hands down to your elbows. Hehehehe. It was quite an interesting experience making this, and it introduced a new dimension to cooking Egusi soup. I happen to have another recipe for Egusi soup, called Marugbo soup because it is cooked with Marugbo leaves. This is a delicacy local to the people of some parts of Ondo state. A member of SYTCC has said she will send some across to me, whenever she goes to Dalston Market. I can’t wait.
If Egusi is becoming quite monotonous for you, try it the Water Leaf way. It will definitely be a hit in your home. Here’s how
You will need
Whole Egusi seeds
1 red onion
1 – 2 pieces of Tatashe – red bell pepper
2 – 3 pieces of Ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
Stockfish or smoked fish
Lots of Water leaves – substitute with water cress/baby spinach
1. Toast the whole Egusi seeds in a pan for a few minutes to intensify the flavour, after which you grind in a dry mill to a powdery form and set aside.
2. Peel the onion and blend to a smooth paste
3. Carefully add the ground onion to the Egusi powder until you get a thick paste. Emphasis on thick, so don’t go overboard with the onion paste. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30minutes.
4. Heat up palm oil in a pot, add a little bit of chopped onions and let it fry till the onions soften.
5. Add the roughly blended tatashe and ata rodo. Let it fry till it thickens. It is essential that it thickens.
6. Get the Egusi paste out of the fridge, and add it to the fried stew in balls. Pour in beef stock to the pot, roughly 1/2 to 1 cup worth depending on how much Egusi paste you have. This will prevent the egusi balls from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
6. Depending on how lumpy you want the Egusi to be, stir, every couple of minutes. I wasn’t really interested in getting lumps. If you want to know how to really make Egusi very lumpy, click HERE.
7. Once the Egusi has cooked, with patches of oil floating at the top, add ground crayfish and stockfish or smoked fish and stir carefully for a few minutes to allow the crayfish dissolve in the soup. Taste for salt and seasoning, but you should not need to as the beef stock, crayfish and smoked fish really should have provided all you need. You can re-adjust if and only if necessary. Once you are satisfied with the intensity and flavour, add the rinsed out water leaves. Lots of it. I forgot to take mine out of the freezer, so I added it from frozen.
8. Stir and lower the heat. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you need to lower the heat to allow the leaves gently leach out their water content into the soup without evaporating. On high heat, the soup would thicken and you will miss the ‘pade mi ni gunpa’ effect, which really is the essence behind this soup. In a few minutes, you would notice the soup getting more watery, and probably slightly pale, with patches of water bubbling in the pot. This is what you want. You will also notice the leaves shrinking too. You may taste at this point and feel like strength of flavour from the beef stock or seasoning cube has been diluted. Do NOT be tempted to re-season.
9. Continue cooking till you get to the point where you can see big oil patches floating on top of the soup, then you know you are done. Remember I told you in the previous step not to re-sason? Taste it now, and you will notice the flavour is back up again. if you had added additional salt or seasoning cubes earlier, it would have been a salty mess.
You need to serve this soup immediately because Egusi has a very good absorbent quality, and if you leave the soup sitting on the pot, it will absorb all that delicious liquid that you need for the ‘pade mi ni gunpa’ effect. Hehehehehehe. So, start on your starchy solid, while you are waiting to see the palm oil float to the top.
……………… Gbure (water leaf) Egusi a.k.a ‘Pade mi ni Gunpa’
……….see how much liquid is oozing out from the soup?
I served with Yellow Garri Muffins
Enjoy and get the tissues or napkins ready, to deal with the soup sliding everywhere. Lol